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Police Jailed After Public Execution

March 5, 1995

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Twelve police officers faced murder charges Sunday after a TV station broadcast film of a disarmed robbery suspect being shot in the back three times as police held him to the ground.

One officer was charged with the fatal shooting Saturday, and the other 11 as accomplices, police said.

The shooting at a busy shopping mall was the talk of Rio and the rest of Brazil after it was broadcast to tens of millions of viewers by the Globo television network.

The network showed one police officer, aware of the television camera and dozens of spectators, shooting the suspect three times in the back as he lay prone on the ground, held down by other officers.

Three armed bandits tried to rob an armored car as it was collecting money from shops in the Rio Sul shopping center on Rio’s trendy South Side, police and news accounts said.

Police arrived in mid-robbery and shot the driver of the getaway van.

The TV crew, at the shopping center covering another story, filmed the brief shootout and the arrest of the second suspect.

Television viewers saw police throw the man to the ground and drag him by the shirt to the side of the getaway van. One officer shot the suspect three times with the man’s own revolver.

Gov. Marcello Alencar watched film of the shooting with army Gen. Euclimar da Silva, state security secretary, and promised justice.

``State police agents are generally of a very humble, poor background and even though they were trained, gunfire took their cool away. The police acted to suppress a robbery, but I lament the excesses involved,″ Alencar said.

State police have been criticized recently for corruption and ineffectiveness. But Saturday’s shooting has divided the people of Rio.

Some, like taxi driver Eduardo Pisa, think ``the police did what they had to do. We now have one less bandit in our midst.″

But for many of Rio’s residents, the gruesome killing was a reminder that the city is still dangerous after soldiers were sent last year to help police fight skyrocketing crime in the seaside metropolis.

``I just can’t admit that this kind of violence can take place at one of the city’s fanciest shopping centers, less than a mile away from Copacaban beach,″ said Lucelia Jaguaribe, a shopper visiting from Sao Paulo.

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